Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Anne O'Brien Historical collection is going digital!

by Arthur Merchant

A key centerpiece of Clarence Dillon Library's collection is the historical collection housed in the Anne O'Brien historical research room. Visitors who venture in can access shelves of historic books, journals from the past centuries and albums containing almost a thousand photographs that capture the rich history of Bedminster, Far Hills and the entire Somerset Hills area.

I am happy to say that now these photographic images will be accessible to patrons and the community at large regardless of whether the library is open or researchers are able to visit the library in person. This is thanks to an arrangement with the New Jersey Digital Highway (NJDH), a project overseen by Rutgers University which provides a platform for various New Jersey institutions including libraries, academia, museums and local historical societies to present their collections to wider audiences.

Just prior to my present position at Dillon Library, I had the pleasure of working as a Rutgers student employee for NJDH, cataloging and uploading countless images of photographs, maps and documents from collections detailing several chapters in New Jersey's rich history. Upon first seeing the rich heritage housed in the O'Brien room, the first thought was how important it was to open the collection to all professional and amateur historians throughout the state and country.

After over a year of preparation, scanning and uploading, 160 of our photos are available for viewing and with the help of dedicated staff and volunteers, many more will appear over the coming months. To access NJDH go to and then enter Clarence Dillon Public Library in the search field and the entire list of our images will appear. The URL to go directly to this list of images is: You can also click the photo of the Vanderveer/Knox house at the top of our home page at

In each record you are able to view each photo in one of multiple formats including JPEG and PDF. Just as importantly, all the important data connected with the image (dates, locations, people, subjects) is at your fingertips. Many of these keywords can likewise be searched so you can create new lists of images. Feel free to explore NJDH to explore Clarence Dillon Library's collection and when you're through explore other online collections from other participating institutions.

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